How Tecla Helped Me Romance My Wife

Todd-Karen-TeclaTecla hands-free technology for smart phones helps me be me and it’s a significant part of my on-going love story with my amazing wife, Karen.
When I first met Karen, I was using a BlackBerry, headset, and button — that was it. Since I have a C4 spinal cord injury, all I could do with my cellphone was digit and name dial. I couldn’t even see the BlackBerry I was using because it was behind my wheelchair. If I got a text or email, it was in the hands of my caregiver. That’s how removed I was from something that, for most people, is a device for connecting with others. I didn’t even check my email for years — connectivity was super limited.
Until I met Karen, I had never put it together that whoever was with me was my filter and they were the ones texting the message. They were responsible for my spelling, grammar, punctuation and choice of wording. I would audibly tell them what I’d like to say in a text and never even look at my phone. That was the approach for years; it was what I knew.
One particular time, my caregiver pulled my phone out of the holster and laughed at a flirty text Karen sent me. It really hit me that my caregiver was my hands and she was reading everything. All of a sudden, I felt this huge violation like I had just been exposed. My caregiver is a wonderful woman but the reality is that I’m a grown ass man in a relationship with a grown ass woman. Karen had just assumed that I was in charge of texting, so from that moment on, we decided we’d communicate through emails and phone calls.

Now I Send My Own Texts

In spite of all the gaps in technology, four years ago Karen and I managed to flirt our way to our wedding. About five months after the big day, my buddy showed me switch-control and we noticed it had an ‘external’ command option, which made me think there must be something out there I could use to text my wife on my own. Soon after this I learned about Tecla and a new version that worked with switch control to connect users directly to their phone. So my game plan became: Buy a Tecla, buy an iPhone, buy a headset, and text my wife on my own!
Once I had everything sorted out and slowly learned how to navigate the device, I asked Siri to text my wife… and then Karen texted back. No caregiver, just me and my wife. I remember saying to myself, “Are you serious?” I immediately showed Karen how it worked and her response was, “You know what you have to do now? You have to tell the world, you have to tell people!”
What’s weird about sharing the story is that people just assume those with limited mobility have always had these options. But Tecla didn’t always exist and very few people knew what switch control was.
Fortunately for me and Karen, Tecla does exist now, and it’s a significant part of my on-going love story with my amazing wife, Karen.

Todd Stabelfeldt, an entrepreneur and computing technology expert, lives in Seattle with his wife, Karen. A C4 quadriplegic, during his decades-long struggle for increased independence, Stabelfeldt, 38, has become a noted expert in technologies for people with spinal cord injuries and is a regular contributor to usability testing efforts for technology companies in product development. Additionally, Stabelfeldt is the CEO and Founder of C4 Database Management which primarily serves clinical and anatomical pathology labs and hospitals with ongoing database maintenance and special projects like SharePoint migrations.

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Tramadol addict backs upgrade to Class A



A young man addicted to tramadol since he was 14 has spoken to UTV about how the prescription painkiller, which he now buys illegally online for just 30p a pill, has taken over his life.
The 22-year-old revealed the shocking lengths he would go to in order to get his hands on the drug – from stealing from his mum as a teenager, to tricking doctors, and buying illegally from dealers.
Robert* takes fistfuls of the tablets in a desperate bid to get the same sort of high as he would from morphine or heroin. His tolerance is now so high that it takes more and more pills to have an effect.
He has been in an out of prison, having robbed pharmacies for prescription drugs and committed serious violence.
He frankly admits that he is a danger to the public.
Credit: UTV
But Robert wants to turn his life around and that is why he is speaking out and why he would back calls to upgrade tramadol to a Class A drug – to stop people just like him.
“I want to change my life and just show people out there it’s not worth it,” he told UTV.
“Do not get into that circle of crime, tablets, jail … crime, tablets, death.”
Describing the pressures of worrying about having no food because he has spent everything he has on tramadol, he added: “It takes over everything.
“Everything else in my life is blocked out. Tramadol comes first.”
As well as ruining his own life, the young man knows he has also hurt others through his actions.
Asked what he would say to them, he said simply: “I’m really, really sorry.”
Number of tramadol prescriptions in NI in the last year. 
Earlier this month, UTV revealed that tramadol is claiming more lives in Northern Ireland than any other drug – including heroin and cocaine.
Pathologist Professor Jack Crane called for the reclassification of the drug to crack down on the black market trade.
And earlier this week, Tom Black - a senior doctor with more than 20 years’ experience and chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, told UTV he shares Professor Crane’s concerns.
* Name change to protect identity
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Crippling disease on the verge of worldwide eradication

Virus invades nervous system and destroys nerve cells that control muscles, especially in legs
Children with polio doing physiotherapy exercises at Wingfield Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital in Oxfordshire Rex
A passage in Philip Roth’s novel Nemesis describes the horror of catching polio in the US town of Newark in 1944, when outbreaks of the disease were common and each summer was spent in fear of infection.
“Finally the cataclysm began – the monstrous headache, the enfeebling exhaustion, the severe nausea, the raging fever, the unbearable muscle ache, followed in another forty-eight hours by the paralysis,” it says.
Polio, or poliomyelitis, has existed for millennia. There is ancient Egyptian art which depicts a victim of the disease with a frail, deformed limb, using a staff for support.
While the paralysing effects of polio have always been devastating, outbreaks of the disease were relatively rare in the West until the late 19th century, when major epidemics swept Europe and the US.
In Roth’s story, everyone knows what polio is but no one knows where it comes from or how it spreads, with everything from flies to fast food blamed for its rapid transmission.
In fact it is passed on through contact with faecal matter, by drinking contaminated water and eating food that has been touched by the unclean hands, and sometimes through coughs and sneezes.
A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938 (Getty)
Once infected, the virus invades the nervous system and begins to destroy nerve cells which control the muscles, especially in the legs. If someone is paralysed by polio, there is a five to 10 per cent chance they will die when the disease reaches their respiratory system. There is no cure.
“He was there for three weeks before he no longer needed catheterisation and enemas, and they moved him upstairs and began treatment with steamed woollen hot packs wrapped around his arms and legs, all of which were initially stricken,” writes Roth, of one character’s experience.

“He underwent four torturous sessions of the hot packs a day, together lasting as long as four to six hours. Fortunately his respiratory muscles hadn’t been affected, so he never had to be moved inside an iron lung to assist with his breathing, a prospect that he dreaded more than any other.” 
The iron lung was invented in 1928 by American physiologists Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw. 
The huge ventilator, which left only the head visible, kept polio victims alive for a number of weeks while they recovered from the illness – but those left permanently paralysed could spend their whole lives encased in one.
Dawn Varma, a 20-year-old who was paralysed by polio when she was 10 weeks’ pregnant, even gave birth while she was in an iron lung.
A photograph from 1959 shows Ms Varma, the wife of an Indian scientist, inside the ventilator with a nurse tending to her healthy newborn baby, called Dilip.
In 1952, Jonas Salk developed an injectable polio vaccine and in 1961 Albert Sabin pioneered the oral vaccine drops, which had the advantage of spreading immunity through communities. These vaccines were highly effective, and cases in the US fell from 35,000 in 1953 to 5,300 in 1957. 
Dawn Varma, who gave birth while inside an iron lung at the age of 20 (Rex)
The new oral vaccine was approved for emergency use in Hull in 1961 when an epidemic hit the city, with parents taking their children to improvised immunisation centres in their thousands to be given sugar lumps with the vaccine.
The success of mass polio vaccination in the developed world led doctors and international humanitarian organisation Rotary International to consider its potential elsewhere.
John Sever, head of the infectious disease branch at the US National Institutes of Health and a Rotary member, in 1979 proposed the idea to the group’s president, who wanted to develop a new project for Rotary that would involve the entire organisation.
“He asked my opinion of what we could do, and I wrote him: ‘If a single vaccine were to be selected, I would recommend poliomyelitis’. At the time, less than half the children in the world were receiving any vaccine,” Dr Sever told National Geographic.
“At the time, there had just been the last cases of polio to occur in the United States, and smallpox had just been declared to be eradicated. So people felt it was possible, that we could aim to eradicate polio.”
Dr Jonas Salk, who developed the injectable polio vaccine, in the lab with his assistant (Rex)
He said soon afterwards, “the legislative body that represents all Rotarians voted that we would make immunisation for the eradication of polio our number one priority throughout the world”.
That same year, Dr Sever and several fellow Rotary members travelled to the Philippines, where with the support of the government and health industry, they immunised around six million children.
Soon, the virus had been eradicated across the Americas – a remarkable feat that led Rotary International and the World Health Organisation to announce the goal of worldwide Polio eradication in 1988.
Now the disease is only endemic in three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, and there were just 37 cases last year. Optimistic health workers and organisations such as Rotary International say 2017 could be the year in which the world sees the last case of polio.
Serious challenges, including violent attacks on vaccinators by Islamists and poor routine immunisation coverage, remain.
But one day taking children to the doctor for polio vaccination drops may be a distant memory, and the long list of famous Polio survivors including Francis Ford Coppola, David Starkey and Mary Berry will fade into history.
National Polio Immunisation Day in New Delhi, India
The hope generated by this possibility is summed up in Roth’s novel when the protagonist listens to his grandmother reminisce about diseases of the past.
“His grandmother was remembering when whooping cough victims were required to wear armbands and how, before a vaccine was developed, the most dreaded disease in the city was diphtheria,” it says. 
“She remembered getting one of the first smallpox vaccinations. The site of the injection had become seriously infected, and she had a large, uneven circle of scarred flesh on her upper right arm as a result. She pushed up the half-sleeve of her housedress and extended her arm to show it to everyone.” 

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How do doctors treat post-polio syndrome?


How do doctors treat post-polio syndrome?



Because symptoms vary, there is no one treatment for post-polio syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic. A variety of treatments are implemented to help patients manage symptoms to be as comfortable and independent as possible.


As of 2015, many medications have been studied to help alleviate post-polio syndrome, but none have been found to be very effective, Mayo Clinic reports. Currently, physicians recommend over-the-counter and prescription pain medications to help ease muscle and joint pain.
Sleep apnea is common among post-polio syndrome patients, and sometimes doctors recommend treatment for the condition, Mayo Clinic states. Patients may need to wear a device to open their airways or refrain from sleeping on their backs.
Physical therapy exercises may be prescribed, Mayo Clinic says. Most exercises are designed to strengthen muscles without creating muscle fatigue. It is important that patients with post-polio syndrome not over-exercise to the point of fatigue because it typically takes a lot of rest to recover. Sometimes speech therapy helps patients learn to overcome difficulty swallowing.
Occupational therapy is very common because most post-polio syndrome patients must learn how to conserve energy, Mayo Clinic states. This involves learning how to pace oneself and rest periodically with the assistance of a cane, wheelchair or scooter. Occupational therapists also help patients make their homes safe and convenient as well as determine ways to perform household tasks while conserving energy.


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‘All systems in place’ for Afghanistan to eradicate polio, says


A child receives a polio vaccination. (Credit: CIDA/ACDI / Sharif Azami / Flickr)
Afghanistan recorded its first case of wild poliovirus this week for 2017 – an 11-month-old girl in Kandahar district. Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) says eradication is on the horizon, and Afghanistan is poised to lead the way.
In 2016, the WHO recorded just 37 cases of wild poliovirus worldwide, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Although the four cases in Nigeria were a resurgence after two years free of the potentially paralyzing disease, Afghanistan and Pakistan have made steady and significant progress in recent years.
Afghanistan only had 13 recorded cases last year, down from 20 the year before and 28 in 2014. Pakistan’s improvements are even more dramatic – from 306 cases in 2014, to 54 cases in 2015 and finally only 20 cases in 2016.
“We have seen significant progress in our polio eradication efforts over the past year,” Hemant Shukla, director of the polio program at the WHO, said in a press release. “Most of Afghanistan is now polio-free, the circulation of the poliovirus is restricted to small areas in the eastern, southern and southeastern parts of the country, and we have seen huge improvements in vaccination campaign quality.”
Over 12 months, the proportion of areas that achieved the required immunization coverage increased from 68 percent to 93 percent. A new strategy to revisit homes where children were missed successfully vaccinated 75 percent of missed children in high-risk districts by the end of the year. New approaches like mobile technologies improved remote monitoring and Afghanistan’s surveillance capabilities are even better than global standards.
Most important, dialogue and engagement with the community has helped parents accept how critical immunization is for their children – something that a 2016 study found nearly 90 percent of Afghans now believe, the WHO reported.
In the face of insecurity, fighting and overt anti-vaccination campaigns by the Taliban, community engagement and support from religious leaders is crucial for health workers to effectively carry out campaigns. In 2016, not only was a National Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication established, but the Ulama, Afghan religious and legal scholars, issued a declaration calling all Afghans to vaccinate their children.
Those improvements allowed Afghanistan to end 2016 polio-free in 99 percent of its districts, and they are what gives the WHO hope that eradication in Afghanistan in the short-term is a ‘realistic goal.’
“Now more than ever, Afghanistan has all the systems in place and tools it needs to achieve eradication,” the WHO said in an update Tuesday.
But when it comes to polio, countries do not exist in a bubble. In fact, certification of polio eradication by the WHO is given on a regional basis, after all countries in the region have been free of wild polio-virus for three consecutive years under certification standard surveillance.
Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan are therefore considered one epidemiological block. Thankfully, coordination between the two countries is strong, according the WHO, and 49 cross-border teams vaccinate children at 18 vaccination points along the porous border as they cross into or from Pakistan and Iran. Another 294 Permanent Transit Teams vaccinate children traveling in and out of insecure areas, and special campaigns make sure nomadic tribes are not overlooked either.
Assuming Nigeria can get itself back to zero, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s joint robust efforts suggest that global eradication could be achieved very soon.
Even with its first case of the year this week, Afghanistan is not deterred. Immunization campaigns began on Jan. 30, targeting 5.6 million children mostly in the southern, southeastern and eastern parts of the country close to Pakistan. The campaigns will continue monthly through the end of May during transmission’s low season, which the WHO says “provides the best opportunity to stop transmission country-wide.”
“With our collective efforts, we will be able to eradicate polio from the world,” Melissa Corkum, polio director for UNICEF in Afghanistan, said in a press release for the first immunization campaign of 2017. “Thousands of frontline workers visit every house in the country during campaigns. That’s not an easy task. Due to the hard work of these dedicated frontline workers, we are closer to polio eradication than ever.”

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UK Scientists Just Made a Major Breakthrough With the Polio Vaccine

CDC Global/flickr
Scientists at the University of Leeds in England have developed a new polio vaccine that is far safer to produce than current methods.
Vaccines made from “virus-like-particles” (VLPs) have been successful against hepatitis B and HPV, but have not been stable enough for polio vaccines. As a result, polio vaccines have been produced by growing, and then chemically destroying, large amounts of the virus. Though effective, the process is potentially dangerous in that the virus could escape into the environment.
But that is about to change. Researchers have now discovered mutations in VPLs that are stable enough to be used for polio vaccines, thus eliminating the dangers of creating a live virus.
Polio is 99.99% eradicated worldwide, but scientists maintain vaccination must continue even after the disease is wiped out. Vaccines produced by the new VPL method will replace the old ones once that happens.
“Continuing to vaccinate after polio has been eradicated is essential to ensure against the disease recurring, but there are significant biosafety concerns about current production methods,” David Rowlands, a Leeds University professor and co-author of the study said in a press release. “Our new method of creating the vaccine has been proven to work in lab conditions and on top of that we’ve proved it’s actually more stable than existing vaccines.”
Nigeria proves Rowlands’ warning about the disease recurring. The nation was declared polio free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, but confirmed three more cases in 2016.
India was also declared polio free in 2014 but saw a resurgence in the disease last summer. Health officials had to respond with mass vaccinations in the southern state of Telangana.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only other nations with polio cases. The former had 13 cases of polio in 2016, while the latter had 20.    
In terms of foreign aid, Canada has been a world leader, devoting CAN $250 million in 2013 towards wiping out the disease worldwide. The WHO has been active as well, funding this latest research via a $1.5 million grant. Humanitarian efforts have been tremendously successful, but the fight isn’t over yet.  
According to the WHO website, “as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year.”
Professor Nicola Stonehouse, a Leeds University professor co-author of the study, believes the next step is mass production: “Further research is needed to refine them more but we are confident they will work for all three forms of polio. After that, we need to find a way to manufacture them cost effectively on a large scale.”
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